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Sen Toomey: Let Obama Make Sequester Cuts

Lehigh Valley Sen. Pat Toomey proposes letting the White House make targeted spending cuts to avoid across-the-board reductions if sequester kicks in Friday

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey wants to let the White House make federal budget cuts required by the impending sequester to "cut in the least disruptive way possible."

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Toomey, a Republican from Zionsville, Lehigh County, said the move would help keep air traffic controllers on the job while cutting spending in redundant areas such as the federal government's 15 different financial literacy programs.

"I'm not sure the federal government has demonstarted it's qualified to teach financial literacy," Toomey joked in a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon.

He noted that the sequester will require only about 2 percent of spending to be cut from a government budget that has doubled in size over the past 10 years. Modest -- not draconian -- cuts are needed in this case, he said

Toomey's plan would retain Congress's ability to reject the president's prioritization of the cuts. The 

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey on Monday urged Congress to reach a compromize to avoid sequester, but Toomey says time is running out.

would eliminate job search assistance for about 37,000 people and furlough 26,000 Department of Defense civilian contractors, said Casey, a Democrat. Pennsylvania would also lose $73 million for medical research funding and innovation.

Sequestration won't affect Social Security, Medicaid, Pell grants, veterans' benefits and Defense Department spending on wars.

Here are some possible Lehigh Valley impacts:

  • Head Start in the Lehigh Valley could see a cut of up to 8 percent. That could involve as many as 100 children losing places in Head Start as well as a decrease in personnel – 10 teachers and assistant teachers and home visitors, for example, according to Community Services for Children, based in Allentown.
  • Lehigh Valley International Airport could lose its air traffic control midnight shift as a result of cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to LVIA Executive Director Charles R. Everett, Jr. Passengers could experience delays getting through security if federal Transportation Security Administration workers are furloug
  • Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley would lose about $125,000 of the $2.5 million  the agency receives from federal sources. This cut would result in about 20 fewer homes being weatherized and would cripple the agency's efforts to save families from losing their homes to foreclosure, said Executive Director Alan Jennings.

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